Social media’s permanent silencing of US President Donald Trump again exposed the country’s double standards, and stripped Washington’s “moral high ground” in lecturing other nations about “freedom of speech,” Chinese observers said, adding that the recent development on the presidential transition, including the storming of Capitol hill, has taught the US a lesson: freedom of speech has boundaries.
Using the excuse of a potential risk of further incitement of violence, social media platforms, Twitter announced the permanent suspension of Trump’s accounts.
Google also followed suit. Shortly after Twitter announced on Friday to suspend Trump’s account, Google shared that they were removing Parler, a conservative social media app, from their Play Store immediately, saying they were suspending the app until the developers committed to a moderation and enforcement policy that could handle objectionable content on the platform.
It is not only the accounts of Trump that have been suspended. Twitter also removed the accounts of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who has received a presidential pardon; and pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, for breaching policies that ban users from engaging in “coordinated activity” that results in online and real-world harm.
In a press statement released on Friday evening, Trump responded to his suspensions by saying “Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech.”
The incident has fully exposed the US’ double standards when it spares no efforts to criticize other nations’ “violations of free speech,” whilst taking the drastic move to the restrict the speech of its own president, Li Haidong, professor at the Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Saturday.
He said such blatant double standards stripped the US of its “moral high-ground” when it intends to bellow about other nations’ “violations of freedom of speech.”
China has long been devoted to regulating harmful content, such as violence, pornography and personal attacks on its internet. Yet such a move has fallen into the US muzzle of attacking China for “restricting freedom of speech.”
“Maybe it is only until today, the US has learned the lesson that freedom of speech is not without limits. No government can have an unregulated internet,” Shen Yi from the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, told the Global Times.
Yet he said the US has a long way to go regarding internet regulation. “We regulated the internet to provide a healthy online environment for the public; but US platforms started an internet purge because those platforms are tilting toward certain political parties, and some speeches are not in accordance with the political interests they upheld.”
Li noted that after the incident, the US should not treat itself as special and perfect, differentiating itself from every country in the world. “It has fallen to a laughing stock for the world to see.”
The suspension of Trump and his followers’ account also stirred waves of mocking on the Chinese internet. The hashtag “Twitter announced permanent suspension of Trump’s account” has generated over 400 million views as of press time.
“We really have witnessed history; witnessed the true colors of the US political system and its double standards,” said one Sina Weibo user.